The spring striper bite is late because water temperatures remain relatively cold. Salt ponds are between 44° and 50°, depending on the tide. For the last few weeks, holdover stripers have been elusive. That lack of catching is compounded by the fact that many of us are scanning the western horizon for those first migratory bass leaving the Chesapeake and Hudson. There has been some talk of young fish in lower Long Island Sound and a few whispers of new fish just the other side of Westerly, but so far, nothing yet. This does, however, leave time to buy some new gear while we enjoy clean shores and the new Colt Sniper.
We likely won’t see that first run until waters warm another five degrees or so. That small increase encourages arrivals of bait fish which hungry stripers seek. We have reported on lice covered stripers as early as April 12 in the past and we work a week ahead here so that gives you an idea how relatively late we. But it’s all relative because Nature controls such timing. Just a few degrees of separation between The Sound and the West Wall, that’s all.
Clean Shores and Coltsnipers
One new striper lure that’s getting a lot of attention already and surely will become a must-have, is the Shimano Coltsniper Splash Walk. Breaking into the plastic lure market with something revolutionary is a big deal and Shimano has incorporated their Propulsion Weight Transfer System in a 7 1/4″, 3 3/4 ounce lure with amazing graphics on the skin. Remember the classic Doc lure? Not the one you might find now but the first generations? Classic walking action with enough splash and a perfect resonance from internal weights?
The Splash Walk is a vision of the old Doc with updated technology and details. The Splash Walk weight was designed to make the lure sit vertically when not being retrieved or shaken in a stripers mouth. That’s killer for attracting predators looking for the wounded fish easy meal. The Splash Walk is available in several color patterns, including Bunker, Blue Sardine, Black Back, Squid, Bone White and Green Mackerel.
Ralph Craft at Crafty One Customs in Portsmouth said he has Splash Walks on order and like many businesses experiencing the positive and negative effects of COVID, is just waiting for the shipment arrive. Check in with Ralph and his team to get one of the first deliveries.
Certainly there are a few major league bass lurking in our salt ponds and river but the majority of holdovers and those first waves of migratory bass will be less than ten pounds, at most. With that in mind and a stimulus check in the pocket, we added a Lamiglass Black B7215S 7’2” rod to the collection this year from The Saltwater Edge in Middletown. The fast action tip is perfect for smaller fish and largely anything we see inshore around here. It might even help you catch an elusive squeteague. Having a medium or heavy rod with a fast or medium action tip is fine for ensuring a hookset on larger fish but for a few months, the Lamiglass Black will be the perfect rod for smaller weight lures and on calm days, a jittery topwater popper. It has been a perfect fit in the kayak with just enough length to clear the bow with plenty of backbone, starting with the long cork handle, FUJI reel seat and Aconite guides.
The best dressed beach cleanup ever?
And in the cleanup spot this week, pun intended, possibly the best dressed trash crew ever waded the lower shores of Narragansett’s Narrow River by Sprague Bridge on a recent cold April weekend. Members of the Rhody Fly Rodders and the RI Saltwater Anglers Association fishing clubs supported the Narrow River Preservation Association. Members ascended the dirt path down the edges of a pretty estuary, after risking their lives trying to cross a busy Boston Neck Road where vehicle speed often outweighs driver courtesy. Carrying bright orange five gallon buckets, their small angler army worked both shores to clean up what has washed up or just been callously tossed away. Plastic, cans and bottles always seem to fill bags first but this day, they retrieved even a tire.
One of the coolest anglers on the water, Susan Estabrook, was there to help, as she so often is, lifting, carrying and occasionally ensuring there’s a hot coffee for cold volunteers. Susan is a Trout Unlimited member as well and seems to always be ready to support good water conservation efforts. She is also one hell of a fly fisher and if she takes to a spey rod as she has a fly rod, stripers and trout won’t stand a chance. Susan is a dedicated conservationist and when all this social distancing stuff is history, someone you should seek out to shake her hand and say “thank you.” Lots of effort is required, mostly behind the scenes, for volunteer and other fishing club events and Susan helps make many of them possible and successful. Cheers to you Susan.
It’s a shame these cleanups are still necessary but they do keep us involved as we look for migrating bass and native trout, create reasons to buy new gear and watch for clear weather to light up small dark fins cruising around Sedge Island. Just a few degrees of separation, that’s all we need now.